Chatham Sends Letter To Fish and Wildlife Service Over Controversial Boundry Claim

KA_Chatham_town offices 2_110615CHATHAM – A letter from the Town of Chatham to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reiterates the town’s position that federal government does not have a claim to the open waters and submerged lands to the west of the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge.

The dispute is the latest in a series of clashes between the town and the Fish and Wildlife Service after the release of the 15-year management plan for the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. The final draft does not include a number of proposals that the town objected to, most notably the federal government’s claim of more than 700 acres of South Beach.

But the plan does still include the claim of the Nantucket Sound waters west of Monomoy, which local officials believe could threaten fishing and shellfishing in the area.

While the proposal does allow for continued fishing activities, selectmen are concerned that a provision in the plan could allow for federal officials to regulate shellfishing in the future. The town has argued that they have been good stewards of the area for generations.

“It’s spot on. It’s absolutely a great letter,” Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Seth Taylor said of the letter written by the town’s counsel, Natural Resources Director Robert Duncanson, and Jeff Pike, a consultant hired by the town to address the Monomoy plan. “It doesn’t nip around the corners and is an excellent foundation for us to continue if they remain recalcitrant, which I expect they will.”

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office agrees with Chatham’s position, and has threatened legal action if Fish and Wildlife does not drop its claim.

Selectmen will wait until the plan is finalized before deciding whether to take legal action. The comment period for the draft proposal ended earlier this month.

Chatham officials traveled to Washington D.C. in April to lobby representatives over the original plan.

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